Archive for the Cycling Community Category

Cycling & Race Photographers

Posted in Cycling Community on July 16, 2010 by bethleasure

31“Thanks for the compliment on the images, but if you only knew what I had to do to get them!!” Kurt Jambretz, bike race photographer

A rare look at THE man in cycling photography, Graham Watson

 A Picture’s Worth…

 …A thousand words and immeasurably more. Cycling is a business after all. Without images to entertain, explain, and market, information about our sport would be less tantalizing. Only so many can be reached at race-side, but millions of eyeballs participate by proxy via a still or moving picture.

The photographers of cycling often put themselves in harm’s way so an audience can imagine what it feels like to be in the midst of racing life, and their competition to do so is fierce. Only so many spots are designated for passengers on the motorcycles which move through the racing field. Established shooters, local media, and sometimes VIPs are designated those moto spots by the race promoter. Taking pictures outside the caravan, at road-side, leaves an incomplete story of the racing action.

The photographer and cameramen are in constant motion to capture the key moments of the race and to get that perfect shot: right light, a rider’s expressive face framed just so, in focus, and at a point which tells the story. Sometimes you’ll see a photographer perched atop a bridge railing or in the middle of a field to get a panorama of the peloton. Sometimes you’ll see one dangling over the side of a helicopter while filming. Post-race the real work begins as they rush to edit and file their best shots with the press, hoping their unique viewpoint is seen by the world.

It can be fun, and in all weather, under competitive circumstances, managing multiple variables, it becomes a bit like the sport that it’s documenting.

Prayer for Photographers & Cameramen

“Fear-of-God will be all his joy and delight. He won’t judge by appearances, won’t decide on the basis of hearsay. He’ll judge the needy by what is right…” 32Isaiah 11:2-4


We are enthralled by inventions which record a likeness in order to enjoy and evaluate racing. We know that appearances can be deceptive, and ask for heightened perception to see and learn truth behind what’s presented. We pray for safety for both rider and shooter in getting these captivating shots and ask blessing on those behind the camera.

Ponder How do I wish to be seen? Am I more concerned with my exterior than working on the qualities of a winner? Affirm I can be appreciated for my authenticity. Watch for ways to show your unique contribution to the world.

31Conversations with Kurt Jambretz, Photographer.

2The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Race Promoters & Event Staff

Posted in Cycling Community on June 15, 2010 by bethleasure


28“The key to sustainable promotion, with return on investment given by sponsors, is to be in a large visible marketplace with full media coverage.” Dave Chauner, Race Promoter

It's about getting those eyeballs

Searching for a post-racing career, I conducted research before deciding event promotion would not be my first choice as a second role in cycling. It didn’t seem to matter that my 29county was home to some of the greatest potential venues in these parts and a place of history for big races like the extinct, international-caliber Tour du Pont/Trump. Practically no one was encouraging about the prospects, and the role of promoter itself doesn’t suit my eleventh-hour style.

Never proving to be a quitter, I took this dissuasion as a challenge and promptly volunteered at various races. The first gig was with a husband-wife promotional team with perfect complementary skills, the lord and lady of a respectable regional event. This proved the perfect education, an internship into the details and logistics of the sport, which I had hazed as a racer. Being present and aware of what’s going on around the race is counter, after all, to being in the zone for the race.

In my volunteer promoter role, my chief indignation was the spoiled attitude of certain participants put forth in a whine – a sense of entitlement and pushy resentment. This piqued memories of my own carelessness and possible ingratitude. From the other side of the registration table, I witnessed race staff laboring 24/7 on behalf of the complainers, despite nearly a year of maneuvering to sustain, fund, and market the event while encountering numerous challenges. More details than I could track were overcome with respectable delivery in a well-run weekend. My take-away: more grace from the racers please and total respect for the talent and tolerance of a race organizer. God love ya.

Prayer for Race Promoters & Event Staff

“The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body…The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’” 301 Corinthians 12:12, 21

We are thankful for the administrative abilities and fortitude of event staff. We confess we take for granted all the races available to us. We pray abundant blessings on race promoters and workforce. 

Ponder Am I grateful for the opportunity to race? Can I express thankfulness, offer suggestions gracefully, and question kindly? Affirm the race organizers publicly; only confront in private if necessary. Watch an event noting all its activity and be in awe; better, volunteer some time to recognize the challenges of it happening at all.

28Conversations with Dave Chauner, Director – Pro Cycling Tour, the promotion company of the UCI-rated pro races in Pennsylvania popularly known as “Philly week.” The Philadelphia segment of his series of one-day races attracts 250,000 spectators, includes live radio and television coverage, and was formerly the venue for the U.S. Professional Road Championships.

29This blogger resides in western Maryland in a river valley between Appalachian ridges, the easternmost known as the Blue Ridge for its deciduously-tinted forest. Four distinct seasons, a historic network of old roads and varied terrain make it one of the best places in America for riding. She is completely biased on this point.

30The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Cycling’s Soigneurs: 2,016 Water Bottles

Posted in Cycling Community on June 11, 2010 by bethleasure

2,016 Water Bottles

25”I am here to make what you do go as smoothly as you do.  Remember that on the 15th hour when your laundry is not quite dry, or when I’m late to pick you up from the airport. There are always things that are not seemingly put together. We just need to know you appreciate our love of this sport.” Janis Burns, Soigneur

More about work, less about glamour


Thousands of times are approximately how often a team support person must mix up bottles for one Grand Tour. If the mechanic works the most daily hours, the soigneur probably works the most total hours because of work before, during, and post-event.

A soigneur works between races driving…everywhere: delivering team vehicles or personnel to airports, buying supplies, and from one feed zone to another. They are the logistical implementers and the multi-taskers extraordinaire. Their tasks vary per team but they are the team’s real domestiques doing at all times what their on-the-bike counterparts only do in races – whatever’s necessary for the feeding, care, and success of a rider.

I’ve never met a soigneur that didn’t feel love for their athletes; if not, they left the profession. Arguably, the pressure for success is felt as much by the soigneur as by the rider for their purpose is to ensure it by controlling all the practical variables related to living it. Soignée means pulled together; their role is the hub of the team connecting its vital parts for movement. It’s no wonder loyalties to team have led to predictable 26improper behavior. It may be that this is the role in our community which is at greatest risk for compromise, and therefore needs our most earnest prayers.


Prayer for Soigneurs

The good people taste your goodness, The whole people taste your health, The true people taste your truth, The bad ones can’t figure you out.27Psalm 18:25-26

We see this example of love serving its community. We confess that love can be compromised without strong boundaries. We ask for pure love, which can be tough love doing what’s best for another; and for moral courage to resist what’s wrong despite social pressures.

Ponder Am I asking anyone to compromise what’s right for what I want? Is anyone trying to compromise me? Affirm I can be more successful in the long-term by doing what’s right now than by looking for short-cuts to success. Watch carefully what others are doing to support you, check them; and ask others to hold you accountable also.

25Conversations with Janis Burns, American Soigneur to several pro teams so far in her career. She has also fought prejudice against females to contribute to men’s pro cycling.

26Massacre à la Chaîne or Breaking The Chain by Willy Voet records a well known incident of the bust of a soigneur’s drug trafficking on behalf of his team. Published Calmann-Levy, Paris, 1999. 

27The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Race Mechanics

Posted in Cycling Community on December 4, 2009 by bethleasure

Wrenches, Wenches and Trenches

23“…Bring me your bike with an attitude of entitlement, and I’ll put my greasy fingers all over your new white bar tape.” Merlyn Townley, Race Mechanic

Mechanics ought to get Podium girls too


If the bike doesn’t work, you can’t ride it. The meaning of work becomes more highly defined the more elite you become in the racing world. Simple mechanisms that drive movement become high-tech proving grounds for aerodynamics, lightness, and safety. One of the most important persons in your world is your mechanic. If you take this for granted, you’ll number yourself with those people who think they don’t need anyone to succeed, and that is a great myth. Racers define our community, sponsors fund it, but it’s the mechanics that keep it running smoothly.

On a pro team, this is the person who works the longest hours, probably knows the most about you, and usually says the least. I’ve ridden their last minute improvisations that a rocket scientist would envy. Chances are the mechanic will be the first to reach you in a racing accident. I’ve been a fallen woman in a ditch pulled out by the caring team wrench and put on a stretcher. I’ve experienced them tending my wounds miles from any hospital, then making my bike sing again. I’ve seen them wash blood off top tubes. When a comrade took a fatal spill, the neutral support mechanic covered the bike with a blanket away from public scrutiny. I’ve watched them squirm in anxiety from the team car while watching their riders battle it out and whoop the loudest when their rider crossed the finish line first. I’ve witnessed them weeping with fatigue and stagger without praise.

This person is not the one you take for granted; on the road especially, this person IS your mama, the behind-the-scenes nurturer who puts life in your wheels.


Prayer for Race Mechanics
“Bless all his skills, O LORD, and be pleased with the work of his hands…” 24Deuteronomy 33:11

We confess we need others to keep life moving. We are thankful for the bicycle artisans who regularly sacrifice in their lifestyles on the road with us.  We pray for the provision of this unrepresented guild. We ask for timely assistance and awareness to give them praise.

Ponder What can I do to help my mechanic? Have I been appreciative for all their hard work? Affirm I say thank you when appropriate. Watch your mechanic light up when you bring them…anything clean.

23Conversations with Merlyn Townley, who has helped me out of many a diva’s conundrum with bicycle repair. This statement was made to a cyclist with an attitude of entitlement when the mechanic was doing him a favor and was in no way officially working for that rider’s team.

24The Bible, New International Version, Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Race Officials

Posted in Cycling Community on December 1, 2009 by bethleasure

Riders Ready…

20“If outside of rolling enclosure please obey traffic laws, do NOT run stop signs. We have enough memorial races.”  Beth Wrenn-Estes, Race Official

Happiness is Room with a View

Cycling is full of mysterious groups, and we are a clan-like people. We form little tribes in order to battle with other tribes and celebrate our peculiar subculture. It’s a “we versus them” viewpoint, and our universe may only be as large as a local group ride.

In this rebellious environ, authority is viewed with suspicion. I’d been racing a while before I noticed an official without looking through him and only then because he’d addressed me by name startling me out of my racing stupor-superiority complex. It was much later as a team director, when I realized that I was now in some kind of parallel plane with these strange figures who wore uniforms and carried clipboards and often looked grim. It was no longer we versus them; now they were necessary to help me clarify details, gather information, and guide others. Imagine, these are people who love rules, remember details, and can spot numbers faster than a speeding bullet!

With an expanding spirit, I now appreciate the value of this skill-set and its protection of my riders and their results. Suddenly, the guy in stripes barking from a motorcycle seems justified to me because he was thinking about rider safety. Appreciation turned into admiration when I started to remember their names, learn about their lives, and realize many of them are former racers. Take a ride in 21Com One and you get it: they are our biggest fans in many ways, rarely forget what we do, and are racing along with us. They have a face, and while it may look a bit dour whilst scrawling figures quickly on a notepad, at dinner after the races – they’re laughing and swapping tales just like racers do.

Prayer for Race Officials
“Respect the authorities, whatever their level…Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity.” 221 Peter 2:12-14 

We are glad for the authorities who protect our riding freedoms through order. We recognize our defensive, arrogant bent to protest/rationalize. We pray for graceful interaction if we differ, for their keen observation and fair judgment and ask blessing upon officials.

Ponder Am I knowledgeable of rules and teachable when my actions are questioned? Affirm I am strong even when silent. I am kind even when I disagree. Watch how others treat you when you treat others with respect.

20Pre-race instructions about warming up before a time trial by Beth Wrenn Estes at a race in Colorado, sometime in the 1990s. Beth Wrenn-Estes is one of the first officials granted UCI status in America. She has officiated all over the world, and was Competition Director for Cycling at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. A female in a male-dominated sport, she has been creative and resourceful in contributing to cycling’s future.

21Com 1 is the lead vehicle who transports the Chief Judge or Race Commissaire. It’s arguably the best view of the peloton and its action, short of racing in it.

22The Message, Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson